Why do American’s need so much stuff? I was talking with my son the other day after school. He is in first grade and seems to get along just fine with the other kids and has done well with his school work. I have started to give him chores to do and in return, he gets a monthly allowance that I put in his college 529 plan for him. So he asks me the other day, “Can I have my money so I can go buy the Indian Jones Lego Adventurama of Ultimateness for whichever video game system?” Obviously I had no clue what he was talking about or for which video game system he was going to buy this for. I explained to him that his monthly allowance is used for saving for his college. His reply was the typical, heat of the moment response, “But I really want it, and Conor and Austin already have it.” This was an eye opening moment for me. After I upset my Son by saying no to his offer, I started looking at all of the stuff my kids have. My son has 4 video game systems 1 of which is portable, a huge Tupperware bin full of Legos, my daughters have more barbies and other kinds of dolls than a department store would have, and dress up dresses galor! This doesn’t count anything from the toy room that is over run with toys! It disgusted me, not because they had the stuff, but because I knew 80% of it they had never played with and quite frankly, do not need… and I kept buying it for them.
I added up my things. I have three computers and 5 TVs in my house. Can I afford them? Yes. Do I need them? No. Is there something I could be better using my hard earned money for? Absolutely. I realized that I was teaching my children a valuable lesson on what NOT to do as an adult. This is how I have started to view most people. Buying whatever hey can afford ever if they don’t need it.
Less is More
This is a concept that I have finally started to harness and it is amazing how contagious it is. my family and I started going through all the things that we really didn’t need. By the time we were done, it looked like we had a normal amount of stuff in our house and it was easy to find everything. My sold all of these items on Craig’s List and Ebay, making over $3,000 over the course of 1 1/2 months! We took this money and applied it to a credit card that we had hanging out there and are now credit card debt free.
By cleaning up your life, and your stuff, you relieve a lot of stress that has been preventing you from moving forward. Part of this promise is promising yourself that you will think about every purchase the same. No impulsive purchases. We have been doing this now for almost a year and have saved over $10,000 by utilizing some basic concepts:
1) If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
2) Use coupons wherever possible.
3) Don’t live above your means.
4) Don’t buy name brand items.
5) Sell anything you don’t need or want on Ebay or Craig’s List
Try this concept out for a month and see how much extra money you have. You will be surprised.